When We Said Good-Bye

It’s that time again… the monthly Blogapalooz-Hour for us ChicagoNow writers.


Our monthly Blogapalooza hour is upon us tonight.  We have one hour to write.  No rules except one:  write and submit within one hour.  The topic is to write about a time when we had to say good-bye.

One story always sticks out in my mind.  One lousy, unfavorable story.


It was a warm summer afternoon in June when I took my 5-year-old daughter’s hand and led her away from home. Little did we know that was just the first small step toward a much larger one.

We left because my husband at the time was having another one of “those days.”  Those days meant he literally woke up still drunk from the evening before.  The drunkenness stayed with him.  And he wasn’t nice.

So, my daughter and I started walking in any direction, eventually landing at her grade school where she attended kindergarten.  The school was hosting a carnival that evening, which could have served as a useful distraction for us while we avoided our own home.

Initially I volunteered our time. “Can we help put out folding chairs?” I asked.  Something simple, I thought, would suffice since we hadn’t officially signed up for anything.  Instead, a frantic-looking woman commandeered us and led the way to the hot grill under a tent.  Her staff hadn’t shown up for work. Immediately she started giving orders: “I want you both to start warming up the grills.  The food is in the coolers. Start with the hamburgers and hot dogs.  The crowds will fill in quickly.”

That was definitely not what we were looking for.  I politely excused our selves to visit the restroom, took my daughter’s hand, and nonchalantly walked out the school’s front door and headed home.  “Sometimes you have to walk away and never look back,” I advised my daughter.

I thought I was being clever with my motherly advice to my daughter.  Slick sounding, perhaps, but certainly not original.  Rather melodramatic, to be honest.

Did I feel guilty for leaving the poor woman?  Yep, sure did.  But standing in front of a hot grill with a youngster for several hours did not appeal to me.  Plus I didn’t know the first thing about operating the cooking apparatus.

With nowhere left to go, we slowly walked our way back home.

By then dusk had fallen, which meant the witching hours had started at our house.  He was worse.  Ten times worse.  And ten times scarier.

That’s when I listened to my own advice, grabbed my daughter and found the keys to the truck.  My hands violently shook as I tried to put the keys into the ignition.  I remembered feeling like I was in a scary movie scene.  How come I couldn’t operate my own hands?  I had no control, for fear had taken over.  It was surreal.

Miraculously, my adrenaline finally kicked in.  We drove off.  It was the two of us, along with a favorite blanket and stuffed toy.  No purse.  No jackets.  No money.

None of it mattered.

“Drive to Omah and Opah’s house,” my daughter cried out.

We drove and didn’t stop until we were 50 miles away from the city.

It was after midnight when we knocked on the door to my parents’ home. We didn’t have to do a lot of explaining.  Our faces told most of the story.

And that was the night we both said good-bye.

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